Louisa County Conservation Board

October 17th, 2009
Wapello, IA

Halloween Hike: A Bird’s Eye View
October 17, 2009
Louisa County Conservation Board
Wapello, IA

The 2009 Halloween Hike enjoyed a beautiful Saturday evening for its event. The Louisa County Conservation Board staff began setting out pumpkins with Boy Scouts at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday and ended their day at 11:30 p.m. as they gathered in the last of the costumes and props. The event went very smoothly and was greatly enjoyed by all who participated. Comments included that it was both educational and entertaining.

The 2009 Halloween Hike, A Bird’s Eye View, was very successful. Almost 500 people participated in the hike.

178 upper elementary and home school students participated in pumpkin carving
Two scout troops placed and gathered jack-o-lanterns
16 volunteers kept pumpkins lit, created costumes, baked cookies, served refreshments,
took photos, managed parking and ran water to actors
28 actors learned lines and performed, repeatedly, for 3 hours
259 children and adults walked the jack-o-lantern-lit trail to see skits on birds

This year’s skits included:

Intro to Birds: A mother reads to her daughter from a Dr. Seuss book about all the wonderful birds that make up our world and what makes birds unique.

Cy and Herky: Popular University mascots face off, comparing the life of urban birds to rural birds. Both mascots are based on birds. Cy, of Iowa State University, is a muscular Northern Cardinal and Herky, of University of Iowa, is a Hawk.

Bird Feeders: Bird feeder types and placement are discussed by a knowledgeable naturalist while she is being heckled by two persistent squirrels. The squirrels keep an ongoing commentary on the intelligence of birds, hazards of cats, ease of some feeders to raid and hazards of bird lovers with guns.

Citizen Nature Counts: A beautiful Baltimore Oriole learns about citizen science nature
counts from a snapping turtle. Both are observing a human who apparently is participating in a 10-Minute Urban Bird count.

Clean Your Feeders: A saucy House Sparrow meets a kindly nuthatch at a feeder. Both are disgusted at the state of the feeder and the ground underneath. Their discussion centers on care and maintenance of feeders and the area around them.

Neighborhood Watch: Native birds gather at a neighborhood watch meeting to talk on how to deal with predators. The meeting was facilitated by a Turkey Vulture. The agenda included a chickadee explaining the tactics of mobbing predators, an American Robin discussing distress calls and a Killdeer giving a demonstration of the broken wing act.

Bird Chant: Utilizing April Sayre’s Book “Bird, Bird, Bird,” the Wapello High School Drama department paired up with the Winfield 4-H to create a dynamic bird chant. As the drama crew recited the rap, the 4-H group lifted large pictures of each of the 64 birds named in the chant.

At the shelter house participants could enjoy hot cider, hot cocoa, and cookies after their hike.

This year information about the Celebrate Urban Birds program was also available with handouts on habitat development in yards or acreages, suet cake recipes and bird feeder information.

The shelter house was also the gathering place after the last hike for all the volunteers and actors for a “cast pizza party”. This became a good way to talk over the event, share stories, refuel and enjoy the last of the cookies, cider and hot chocolate.

Overall comments were positive and hinted that the skits were more educational this year than funny. One mother commented that she had learned a lot of new things from this hike.

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